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Ballou, Adin (23 April 1803–05 August 1890), Universalist clergyman, reformer, and founder of Hopedale Community, was born in Cumberland, Rhode Island, the son of Ariel Ballou and Edilda Tower, farmers. A largely self-educated preacher, Ballou’s earliest religious experience was Calvinist in nature, and he later recalled the “very solemnizing effect” of the preaching he heard as a youth. At about age eleven, however, Ballou experienced a religious conversion, and a year later he was baptized into a Christian Connection church that emphasized a more enthusiastic and fundamentalist religiosity. Ballou developed a deep interest in religious matters over the next several years and eventually became a self-proclaimed preacher. At age eighteen, in the autumn of 1821, he was received into the fellowship of the Connecticut Christian Conference, a Christian Connection body. In 1822 he married Abigail Sayles; they had two children before Abigail died in 1829....

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Blackstone, William (05 March 1595–26 May 1675), Anglican clergyman, horticulturist, and first European settler in what is now Rhode Island, was born in Whickham, Durham, England, the son of John Blackstone, a wealthy landowner and poultryman, and Agnes Hawley. At Emmanuel College, Cambridge, Blackstone (sometimes Blackston or Blaxton) took his B.A. in 1617 and his M.A. in 1621. He at once took orders in the Church of England....

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Boehler, Peter (31 December 1712–27 September 1775), Moravian pioneer in the American colonies, was born in Frankfurt on the Main, Germany, son of John Conrad Boehler, an innkeeper and later comptroller of the corn office, and Antoinette Elizabeth Hanf. Peter was sent to school at age four, commenced the study of Latin when he was eight, and soon thereafter entered the Gymnasium at Frankfurt. His family wanted him to study medicine, so he entered the University of Jena on 20 April 1731. On 16 June 1734 he matriculated at the University of Leipzig but soon returned to Jena, where he was given the title ...

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Clayton, William (17 July 1814–04 December 1879), chronicler of early Mormonism, pioneer, and musician, was born in Penwortham, England, the son of Thomas Clayton, a schoolteacher, and Ann Critchley. He was schooled by his father and learned to play both the piano and the violin. While employed as a clerk in a Preston textile factory, he listened to the preaching of ...

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Falckner, Daniel (25 November 1666–1741?), minister, author, and communitarian, was born near Zwickau in Langen-Reinsdorf (now Reinsdorf), Saxony, the son of Daniel Falckner. (His mother’s name is unknown.) Both his father and grandfather were Lutheran clergymen. While pursuing theological education, the young Daniel Falckner was closely associated in religious conventicles at Erfurt with August Hermann Francke, a noted leader of the Pietist reform movement within German Protestantism....

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Garry, Spokan (1811–14 January 1892), teacher and tribal leader, was born in a village near where Latah Creek flows into the Spokane River in what is now the state of Washington, the son of Chief Illim-Spokanee, head of the Middle Spokans. His mother’s name is unknown. The three branches of the Spokans—Lower, Middle, and Upper—numbered about 1,000, all of whom looked up to Illim-Spokanee. Garry’s boyhood name is forgotten. At age fourteen he was chosen as one of a group to be educated at the Hudson’s Bay Company mission school on the Red River near what is now Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Nicholas Garry was deputy governor of the company. The Spokan chief’s son was given his name. The group, mostly sons of chiefs, were subject to the same Spartan discipline that prevailed in English public schools. They were instructed in the reading and writing of English and the religion of the Church of England. Also included was training in agriculture, for the missionaries believed that only by developing a settled agricultural life could the Indians compete with white people. The boys were above average in intelligence, and once the language barrier was overcome, the missionaries had little trouble....

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George, David (1742–1810), lay preacher and African-American émigré to Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone, lay preacher and African-American émigré to Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone, was born on a Nottoway River plantation in Essex County, Virginia. His parents, slaves known as John and Judith, were of African origin and had nine children. While a youth David labored in the corn and tobacco fields and witnessed frequent whippings of other slaves, including his mother, who was the master’s cook....

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Gorton, Samuel (1592–1677), Puritan theologian and founder of Warwick, Rhode Island, was born in Gorton, England. Little is known of his background, but his father evidently had been a merchant and guild member in London. Instructed by competent tutors, Gorton became skilled in the classics and in English law but never attended university, engaging instead in the respectable middle-class trade of a clothier. He received his religious training in the English church but by the 1630s, under the influence of Puritan preachers, decided to leave London, where he had been in business, for New England. In 1636 he arrived in Boston with his wife, Mary Maplet, his eldest son, Samuel, and one or more other children. Gorton reached Boston at the height of the Antinomian controversy instigated by ...

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Hiacoomes (?–1690), member of the Pokanauket band of the Narragansetts, who became a Calvinist minister, lived near Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Little is known about his early life, but he had one son who also became a minister.

In 1641 Thomas Mayhew, Sr....

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Hutchinson, Anne (1591?–1643), religious leader, was born in Alford, Lincolnshire, England, the daughter of Francis Marbury, minister of the Church of England, and Bridget Dryden. She learned scripture and theology from her father, who had been silenced and imprisoned for long periods of time by his bishop for complaining about the poor training of English clergymen....

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Judd, Gerrit Parmele (23 April 1803–12 July 1873), physician, medical missionary, and Hawaiian government official and adviser, was born in Paris, New York, the son of Elnathan Judd, Jr., a physician, and Betsey Hastings. Being the eldest son of a physician, Judd took an early interest in the medical profession and attended medical school in Fairfield, Herkimer County, where he received his M.D. in 1825. In 1826 Judd dedicated his life to the missionary cause as directed by the Boston-based Congregational American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). At this time the board was recruiting missionaries for the third company to join the Sandwich Islands Mission in Hawaii in the fall of 1827....

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Jason Lee. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-113753).

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Lee, Jason (28 June 1803–12 March 1845), missionary and pioneer, was born near Stanstead, Vermont (now part of Quebec, Canada), the son of Daniel Lee, a farmer and former revolutionary war soldier, and Sarah Whittaker. The Lees had moved from Massachusetts to the vicinity of Stanstead five years before their son’s birth, and there Daniel Lee continued his occupation as a farmer. Little is known about Jason Lee’s early life and education, but it has been established that he was converted to Methodism in his early twenties. In 1829–1830 he lived in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, where he attended Wilbraham Academy for the purpose of receiving training as a Methodist preacher. With the encouragement of the academy’s president, the Reverend ...

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McCoy, Isaac (13 June 1784–21 June 1846), Baptist missionary, surveyor, and U.S. Indian agent, was born near Uniontown, Pennsylvania, the son of William McCoy, a clergyman. His mother’s name is unknown. When he was six years old, his family moved to Kentucky, where he attended public schools. At nineteen he married Christiana Polke, who had strong religious convictions and missionary spirit and became his dedicated partner throughout his life. They had thirteen children....

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Other Day, John (1819?–30 October 1869), Christian farmer chief of the Wahpeton Dakotas, who became famous for leading white settlers to safety during the Dakota War of 1862, was born in southern Minnesota, the son of Scarlet Bird (Zitkadanduta), a war shaman. His mother’s name is not known. His Indian name was Anpetutokeca; he was also known as Good Sounding Voice, or Hotonhowaste....

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Rich, Charles Coulson (21 August 1809–17 November 1883), Mormon apostle and colonizer, was born in Campbell County, Kentucky, the son of Joseph Rich and Nancy O’Neal, pioneers and farmers. Shortly after his birth, Rich’s parents purchased land across the Ohio River in Indiana. His early family life typified the hard existence of antebellum midwestern farmers: perpetual grinding labor punctuated by religious camp meetings, contending sects, Indian conflicts, modest education (Rich got more than some—three months each year until age seventeen), temperance crusades, and abolition and antiabolition strife. Following the family’s move to Illinois in 1829, Rich became less typical when in 1832, along with his mother, father, and sister, he embraced the proclamations of Mormon missionaries then passing through Tazewell County. From that point on his existence was inexorably enmeshed with the emerging drama of the Latter-day Saints....

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Rosen, Joseph A. (15 February 1877–02 April 1949), agronomist and resettlement expert, was born in Moscow, Russia, and apparently raised 100 miles south in Tula. Nothing is known of his parents and early life. He once acknowledged being held in the Boutirka prison for two months at age fifteen for reading a book that said Czar Alexander was a drunkard. He attended Moscow University in 1894 but, because of anti-czarist activities, was exiled to Siberia for five years. Within six months Rosen escaped to Germany, where he supposedly enrolled at the University of Heidelberg to study philosophy and chemistry. He supported himself by writing for Russian journals....

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Spalding, Eliza Hart (11 August 1807–07 January 1851), pioneer and missionary, was born in Kennsington (now Berlin), Connecticut, the daughter of Levi Hart and Martha Hart, farmers who shared the same ancestor, Stephen Hart. When she was thirteen, the family moved to a farm near Holland Patent in Oneida County, New York. At home she learned the necessary crafts of spinning, weaving, and candle making. She attended Hamilton Oneida Academy and may have studied at Chipman Female Academy in Clinton, New York. Eliza was a serious and bright student. Slender and of medium height, she had dark brown hair and blue eyes and a “coarse voice.” She was also very religious; baptized in August 1826, she joined the local Presbyterian church. For a while she also taught school. A friend of hers, known as Mrs. Jackson, suggested that she might wish to correspond with Henry Harmon Spalding of Prattsburg, New York, who had conveyed to Mrs. Jackson that he was looking for a woman who would “devote her life to educate the heathen.” They began writing each other in 1830, and in the fall of 1831 they met....

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Tenskwatawa. Hand-colored lithograph by F. W. Greenough, 1838. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-3419).

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Tenskwatawa (1775– November 1836), Shawnee religious and political leader, known as the Shawnee Prophet, was born at Old Piqua, a Shawnee village on the Mad River in Ohio, the son of Puckeshinwa, a Shawnee war chief, and Methoataske, a Creek woman. He was originally given the name Lalawethika (The Noisemaker) and was one of a set of triplets, the youngest siblings in a large family numbering at least six older brothers and sisters. One of the triplets died in infancy. The other, Kumskaukau, also a male, lived into the War of 1812 period....